The villain in the ‘Avengers’ series is totally stoned. While you might have thought that space, time, mass and gravity were the keys to the reality of the universe, Thanos, the despot of the Cosmos, needs six infinity stones to impose his interpretation of an ordered world – the space stone, the reality stone, the power stone, the mind stone, the time stone, and the soul stone. Once he has all of them, he will have the power to express his political thinking, which is nothing but fascist eugenics, born of his experience of his home moon, Titan, which, apparently, was destroyed by over-population. His idea is that half the population of every celestial body in the universe must be destroyed – without discrimination in social or financial status – in order that the survivors have a sustainable and comfortable living.
Thanos (Josh Brolin), the anti-hero of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is more arresting a character than all the superheroes put together. The film is about him travelling in his space ship to faraway planets like ‘Earth’ collecting these stones. He already possesses the power and the space stones, which makes him infinitely powerful; more so, it turns out, than the combined might of the ‘Avengers’ and ’The Guardians of the Galaxy’, whom he has to fight for the rest.
Before the first battle, we cut to a lazy scene in New York City where Tony Stark/ Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is having a lighthearted discussion with his fiancée, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), about dreams, and how they can reflect reality. Apparently, he has dreamt about having children with her. At which poignant point in the conversation, the couple is rudely interrupted by Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) who informs Tony Stark of real and present danger approaching Earth.
This is a terribly crowded movie, with disparate characters like the boy wonder, Peter Parker/ Spiderman (Tom Holland), protégé of Tony Stark, joining the Avengers, and then the whole gang meeting up with other familiar teams in space. Groot (Van Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) of the ‘Guardians’ become crucial members. Strangely, despite being referred to as a ‘rabbit’ several times, Rocket, who is a genetically engineered raccoon, does not object pathologically, like he is wont to do in previous films.
Too many characters in the movie slows it down to a ponderous pace and scatters the narrative far and wide. Ironically, this is the sort of over population that Thanos is so worried about in the first place. The result is that by default, as it were, we focus on the man in question. He is actually presented as human, even as a family man with several adoptive children. At one stage Thanos mourns, with tears streaming down his cheeks, for the loss of a daughter. Even though we know he has actually sacrificed his child for the possession of an infinity stone, it is presented as a conflict within his soul.
But by the end we are convinced that the politics of eugenics is just a ruse for the politics of an ‘Avengers’ sequel. Surely fascism will not be celebrated in the Galaxy. The proof will arrive in your theatre by next year.